Tuesday, July 9, 2013

After our morning class time on the control and fair distribution of water, we traveled to the municipality of Mendrisio located in the canton of Ticino in Switzerland. It was a beautiful city hosting both newly developed buildings and historical sites. I was really impressed by the construction of many places, including one particular material that comprised many of the newer buildings. I was unsure what to call it: brick or stone? It was hard and dense like stone but cut into smooth sand-colored bricks.

We made our way through the streets and navigated to the University of Lugano’s Academy of Architecture, founded by Mario Botta, a famous architect. We met with faculty member, Architect Enrico Sassi, and two of his colleagues, Francesco Rizzi and Alessandro Martinelli from the Institute for the Contemporary Urban Project who gave presentations on their research projects on the public space and design of Ticino Canton particularly and urban metabolism. Architect Sassi discussed Barcelona, in particular, and its creative urban design projects. It was quite hard to understand since I have never taken any architecture or planning classes—not to mention they had heavy accents. It would have been much easier to grasp had the slides been typed in English instead of Swiss Italian. With that being said, the most interesting part of the day was spent observing and analyzing the projects on display at the school. There were a lot of really innovative ideas. One project in particular caught my eye: imagine an amphitheater with large foundational pillars holding up a hollowed out pyramid. I suppose the design aimed at keeping the sound from escaping the structure as best as possible, but that is just a guess.

Mendrisio is definitely a nice place to visit, especially since it is so close to Riva San Vitale—only five minutes by train. We weren’t able to see much of the city due to time constraints but I would definitely like to go back before we leave Riva. A few of us may check out the nightlife there before we leave for Freiburg but I would also like to see what more the city has to offer during the day.

Guest Contributor:  PJ Johnston

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